If you are considering mice breeding, you need to think about why you are considering it. It is very important you are doing it for the right reasons, and that you can safely carry out the breeding and look after the litters.
Breeding mice is not something to take lightly, or to just do for fun. I am not here to write about it so people can breed food for snakes and other reptiles either. I am writing this to outline all of the process and principles involved in breeding mice.
It can be broken down into two different categories, people who breed for profit, and people who breed at home because they want to. People often want to have a litter at home because they want some more mice and have the facilities to house them. It is very important you are able to look after the new pups, or have a plan in place to rehouse them.
Mice Breeding Tips for Pet Mice Owners
The first step is to have a healthy male and female mouse. It is important that they both do not have any health issues, and certainly no genetic defects as these can be passed on to their newborns.
You need to place the female into the males cage, doing this the other way round can cause the female to act aggressively defending her territory. Female mice are on heat every 5 or so days, so it is recommended you leave them in the cage for at least 10 days. This will all but guarantee pregnancy, you can then remove the male and place him in a separate cage. His work is done!
Now you need to keep a close eye on the pregnant female and without interfering unnecessarily, if there is anything you can do to ensure the pregnancy goes smoothly, you should help. The first thing you need to do is change her diet slightly, a pregnant female requires a diet higher in fat. You can do this by adding more seeds, nuts, grains, and adding some peanut butter or cooked egg white to her diet.
After around 21 days you will notice the female mouse setting up a nesting area in preparation of birth. When the litter has been born it is important that while checking everything looks fine, you do not touch the pups. Changing the scent they and the mother is used to from theirs to yours will cause problems.
How Quickly Do Mice Breed?
Here are some mice reproduction facts at a glance:
- A female mouse can produce around 5-8 litters per year. Although this is advised against strongly as it puts the mouse under unnecessary stress and can result in physical problems
- The average litter is 6-8 pups
- The gestation period of a female mouse is 21 days on average
With access to enough food, and with adequate conditions, a family of wild mice can multiply from 6 to over 60 in 3 months. This is how households can become overrun with them and consider them as pests.
Domestic mice kept as pets are under your supervision and it is the responsibility of owners to keep their population under control.
Breeding for Profit/Sale
Breeding mice in bulk as a business operation is usually done for the following reasons:
- To supply pets stores or classified ads for mice to be sold as pets
- To supply various reptile breeders or shops with the mice to be used as food
- To work on breeding certain genetic types or preferences
Breeders who do so for the above reasons are breeding mice as a business. Their goal is to make money, not to have fun or keep the mice as pets. They will often keep the mice in conditions that are not as comfortable as they would be for pets. This can cause controversy and questions about the ethics and morals involved.
Mice Breeding Tubs
Mice breeding tubs or cages are used to hold the male and female mice to initiate the breeding process. I have personally seen a long shelf of mice breeding tubs lined up and in use. It is a little strange to see, a long line of identical tubs, all with a water bottle and hatch attached.
People who breed lots of mice in tubs are able to remove themselves emotionally from the mice, they do not see them as pets. They see them as assets potentially worth money, so keeping costs low and selling as many as possible is their business plan.
Mice Breeding Cages
Professional mice breeders, or people looking to make breeding mice into a business use mice breeding cages. While I do not see this as a particularly humane or ethical process, it is commonly performed.
To mass breed mice the breeder would usually set up a large rack with as many cages as they can fit on, or utilize for breeding. Much like a battery hen farm is designed to produce as many eggs as possible, mice breeding cages is designed to breed as many mice as quickly as possible.
Mice Breeding Racks
The rack is the name given to the collection of cages/tubs all held in mice breeding racks. Usually made out of metal and resembling a large construction of shelving, these racks are fairly compact and do not give much room for viewing the mice. They have a hatch on the side or top so the breeder can put his hand in to give out food, or remove/place a mouse into the cage/tub.
As with the tubs and cages, you can find racks for sale online if you browse some classifieds. If you are thinking about getting into breeding for the purpose of mass producing mice, I suggest you think carefully about your target market. Mice do not have a very long lifespan, so breeding for profit is not always a good idea without a substantial demand.